One of my favourite spots in all New Zealand is a little-known gem.
Tapotupotu Bay is just minutes from Cape Reinga, near the top of New Zealand's North Island. 10 minutes down a gravel road will take you to a small horseshoe bay surrounded by steep bush-cover hills. It has silky-white sand, clear waters and all the amenities one would expect from a standard DOC campsite: longdrop toilets, running water, a flat place to pitch a tent, and an information board to pay your NZ$7.50 per person per night.
A small river runs down the southern side of the bay, bringing a neat end to the campsites and allowing quick access to the sea -- simply float down avoiding a few rocks on the way! There's good fishing from the cliffs on either side of the bay and it's also excellent grounds for kayak or small boat fishing.
Windy day in Tapotupotu - river and bush behind campsite.
There's a gentle swell most days; safe for children, excellent for body boarding but no good for the local surfers who hang out further down the coast.
Why is this so great a spot? Even over Christmas and New Years -- the time beachside campgrounds in New Zealand probably see the most action -- it's relatively quiet. Being far away from the nearest McDonalds has its advantages, as people need to bring most supplies with them. It's seldom rowdy here and you have all the time in the world to lay on the beach, snorkel in the clear water, fish along the shore and generally do what comes naturally near the bush: swat mosquitos.
Northland video, including Cape Reinga and camping at Tapotupotu: